Menu
Categories
 
Wasps

Wasps

Persons who are especially sensitive to stings should get, licensed, professional pest control operators who have the experience, equipment and most effective insecticides to get the best job done.

 

 

European Wasps

Vespula germanica

Common Name Scientific Name
European wasp Vespidae Apocrita

Family Vespidae
Suborder Apocrita
Order Hymenoptera

 

European Wasp, Vespula germanica. Photo: B Carson-Ewart

The European Wasp is easily distinguished from native wasps by its vivid yellow and black markings. It is a native of Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor. In Australia, the first European Wasps were found in Tasmania in 1959. By 1978 they had also been found in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia. They are now firmly established in metropolitan Sydney, and are also found in Bowral/Moss Vale, the Blue Mountains, Narrandera, Deniliquin, Albury, Wagga, Coleambally, Griffith, Dareton, Junee, Forbes, Coonabarabran, Orange, Bathurst and West Wyalong. European Wasps are also present in New Zealand.

 

Identification

European Wasps are a stout wasp with a bright yellow and black banded abdomen, and a pair of black spots on each yellow band. They have two pairs of clear wings with the first pair larger and the body is about 1.2 cm – 1.5 cm long. They have black antennae and fly with their legs held close to the body.

 

Habitat and Biology

European Wasps are found in large communal nests, normally only visible as a small entrance hole. They are normally built either underground or in cavities in walls, ceilings, logs or trees. The nests are made from chewed wood fibre. Worker wasps leave the nest in search of food, and are attracted to meats, sweet food and drink.

Colonies begin in spring with a single fertilised queen, who makes a nest with a single egg in each of a small number of cells. These eggs hatch into grub-like larvae that are tended by the queen for the few weeks it takes them to reach maturity. This first batch of workers takes over nest construction and rearing larvae, and the queen concentrates on egg-laying. The nest continues to be extended throughout summer.

Towards the end of summer, several larger cells are constructed, in which a new generation of queens develop. Males also develop, and mate with the queens outside the nest before they die.

In late autumn the original queen dies, and the new queens disperse to find suitable over-wintering sites before forming a new nest in spring. In Europe the old nest then disintegrates and the dispersed queens hibernate in sheltered spots beneath loose tree bark or in roofs. A hibernating queen holds on to the substrate with her jaws, and tucks her legs, wings and antennae beneath her, remaining immobile for up to six months. However it is significant that in the warmer climate of Australia, one of the new queens may stay in the nest and begin laying eggs, without the usual over-wintering period being observed. Over several seasons, this can result in giant nests containing more than 100,000 wasps.

 

Toxicity

European Wasps are more aggressive than bees and will attack when their nests are disturbed. Unlike bees, wasps can sting more than once, and do not die after stinging. The sting causes a burning pain and swelling. If stings are multiple, a more severe systemic reaction may occur.

In some individuals, wasp, bee and ant stings can cause an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), but this is relatively uncommon. Effective treatment is available, which involves known bee/ant/wasp sting allergy sufferers carrying a special kit when outdoors. Immunotherapy or desensitisation is also available, and can reduce the severity of the allergy. Seven deaths over a twenty-year period attributed to wasp stings have been recorded in Australia, mainly amongst known allergy sufferers who were not carrying their preventative medicine with them.

 

First Aid

A cold pack may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of a more severe reaction or the sting victim is known to be allergic to wasp and bee venom, medical attention should be sought immediately

 

Paper Wasps and Hornets

William F. Lyon
Gerald S.Wegner

Common Name Scientific Name
Northern Paper Wasp Polistes fuscatus pallipes Lepeletier
Dominulus Paper Wasp Polistes dominulus Christ
Baldfaced Hornet Dolichovespula maculata (Linnaeus)

Paper wasps and hornets may become a nuisance when nesting around homes and other structures where people live, work or play. Although considered beneficial to agriculture, (since northern or paper wasps feed abundantly on corn earworms, armyworms, tobacco hornworms, etc. and hornets on house flies, blow flies, harmful caterpillars, etc.), it is their painful stinging ability that causes alarm and fear. Nevertheless, unless the threat of stings and nest location present a hazard, it is often best to wait for Mother Nature to kill these annual colonies with freezing temperatures in late November and December. Stinging workers do not survive the winter, and the same nest usually is not reused the following year, except by the yellow and black dominulus paper wasp, on occasion.

 

Identification

The northern or paper wasp is about 3/4 to 1-inch long, slender, narrow waisted with long legs and reddish-orange to dark brown or black in color. There are yellowish markings on the abdomen (rear body part). Paper-like nests, shaped like tiny umbrellas, are suspended by a short stem attached to eaves, window frames, porch ceilings, attic rafters, etc. Each nest consists of a horizontal layer or “tier” of circular comb of hexagonal (six-sided) cells not enclosed by a paper-like envelope. The ends of the cells are open with the heads of the larvae exposed to view.

New to Ohio in 1991, the dominulus paper wasp is somewhat smaller than our native northern paper wasp. It is black with bright, yellow stripes and spots resembling yellowjacket wasps in color.

Baldfaced hornets are up to 3/4-inch long with black and ivory white markings on the face, thorax (middle body part) and tip of the abdomen. Paper-like nests are grayish-brown, inverted, pear-shaped up to three feet tall with the nest entrance at the bottom. Each nest consists of a number of horizontal layers, stories or “tiers” of circular combs, one below the other completely enclosed by a paper-like envelope as a covering. Also, the cells are not exposed to view.

 

Life Cycle and Habits

Paper wasps and hornets are social insects, living in colonies containing workers, queens and males. Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Fertilized queens occur in protected places such as houses and other structures, hollow logs, in stumps, under bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities, etc. Queens emerge during the warm days of late April or early May, select a nest site and build a small paper nest in which eggs are laid. One egg is laid in each cell. As she adds more cells around the edge, eggs are deposited. Larvae in the center are older with the younger larvae further out. It is the cells at the rim of the nest which contain eggs. After eggs hatch, the queen feeds the young larvae. When larvae are ready to pupate, cells are covered with silk, forming little domes over the individual openings. Larvae pupate, emerging later as small, infertile females called “workers.” By mid-June, the first adult workers emerge and assume the tasks of nest expansion, foraging for food, caring for the queen and larvae and defending the colony. Remember with paper wasps, the nest is the work of a single female, has a single layer or “tier” of cells and is not enclosed by envelopes. In hornets, the nests usually consist of a number of stories or “tiers,” one below the other and completely enclosed by spherical walls. Each cell may be used for two or three successive batches of brood.

Adult food consists of nectar or other sugary solutions such as honeydew and the juices of ripe fruits. Paper wasps and hornets also feed on bits of caterpillars or flies that are caught and partially chewed before presenting to their young. Hornets may be seen almost any summer day engaged in their winged pursuit of flies.

Northern or paper wasps nest in window sills, along eaves and in open areas sheltered from the rain. It is expected that the dominulus paper wasp will become a permanent, widespread and common resident in Ohio. Reports indicate it is much more “alert to activity near its nests” than our present indigenous paper wasp species.

 

Sting Prevention

Paper wasps and hornets have a lance-like stinger and can sting repeatedly. When a paper wasp or hornet is near you, slowly raise your hands to protect your face, remaining calm and stationary for a while and then move very slowly away. Never swing, strike or run rapidly away since quick movement often provokes attack and painful stings. Restrain children from throwing rocks or spraying nests with water. Avoid creating loud noises and disturbance near the nest.

When outdoors, avoid the use of heavily scented soaps, shampoos, perfumes, colognes, after-shaves and cosmetics. Avoid shiny buckles and jewelry. Cover exposed skin and wear gray, white or tan rather than bright colors.

Also, remember that if a paper wasp or hornet gets into the automobile while driving, never panic. It wants out of the car as much as you want it out. Slowly pull over off the road, and open the car windows and doors. Trying to remove or kill a paper wasp or hornet while the car is moving can result in accidents.

 

Treatment of Stings

After being stung, immediately apply a poultice of meat tenderizer to the wound. If the sting is not deep, this will break down the components of the sting fluid, reducing the pain.

A commercial preparation such as a sting kill swab can be used. Antihistamine ointments and tablets taken orally appear effective in reducing sting reactions. Persons highly sensitive to stings should consider a desenitization program in an allergy clinic. Consult your physician about medical kits such as Ana-Kit, which contains antihistamine tablets and aqueous epinephrine (adrenalin) administered by injection, a tourniquet and sterile alcohol swabs for cleaning the injection site. Frequently, a bronchodilator material (inhaler) is needed.

Hypersensitive persons should never be alone when outdoors at the peak season of wasp and hornet activity. If stung, help may be needed to start prompt emergency treatment measures. Medic Alert Tags can be purchased from Medic Alert Foundation, Box 1009, Turlock, California 95381-1009, Telephone: 209-668-3333.

 

Control Measures

Chemical control should be a last resort as worker populations are gone after a hard freeze or several frosts. There are literally hundreds of insecticide products in various formulations labeled for wasp and hornet control. Control of these social wasps, although usually not difficult, has its element of risk in being stung. It is best to conduct control operations on nests at dusk or after dusk to avoid being stung, since most of the paper wasps will have returned to their nest. If applications must be made during daylight hours, the use of protective equipment, such as gloves, hat, bee veil, coveralls, etc., will help prevent stings from any airborne wasps.

For control of wasps and hornets that build aerial nests near windows, eaves, in trees, etc., insecticides are formulated in pressurized containers that emit a long, narrow stream of spray 15 to 20 feet. Wasp freeze or wasp stopper compounds, containing highly volatile solvents mixed with resmethrin, pyrethrins, carbamates or some of the newer pyrethroids, produce almost instant knockdown for wasps hit. By approaching a hornet nest, spraying in a sweeping motion, the area can be cleared of guards at the nest, followed by directing the spray stream into the entrance hole at the nest bottom to kill those inside. During the day, this technique does not alarm other hornets returning from the field. No other insecticide needs to be introduced into the nest since all adults present are killed and the immature stages (eggs and larvae) die from lack of care. Usually after one to two days, the nest can be removed carefully. Northern or paper wasp nests are easier to treat.

There are many other insecticides labeled for control including chlorpyrifos (Dursban), diazinon, allethrin, fenthion (Baytex), acephate (Orthene), cyfluthrin (Tempo), cypermethrin (Demon, Cynoff), fenvalerate (Conquer), deltamethrin (Suspend SC), lambda-cyhalothrin (Command CS, Command Pestab) and permethrin (Prelude).

Persons who are especially sensitive to stings should get several competitive cost estimates from reputable, licensed, professional pest control operators who have the experience, equipment and most effective insecticides to get the best job done.

 

Ground-Nesting Bees and Wasps

HYG-2143-9
William F. Lyon

In most situations it is best not to eliminate ground-nesting bees and wasps since they are valuable in agricultural production by either pollinating many different plants or serving as useful predators in controlling harmful pests. However, when nests are located in areas such as yards, gardens, flower beds or playgrounds, control may be justified to prevent the chance of being stung.

Common Name Scientific Name
Bumble Bees Apidae
Sweat Bees Halictidae
Mining Bees Andrenidae
Digger Bees Anthophoridae
Leafcutting Bees Megachilidae
Digger or Threadwaisted Wasps Sphecidae

 

Bumble Bees

Bumble bees are stout-bodied, robust shaped insects with black or gray hairs variously tinged with yellow, orange or red. Adults have three submarginal (closed) cells in the front wings and the hind wings lack a jugal lobe. Also, there are spurs at tips of the hind tibiae and the abdomen is usually hairy. There are three castes, ranging in size from 1/3 to 1-3/8 inches long, consisting of large overwintering queens, smaller males and much smaller workers (undeveloped females). Both the queens and workers can inflict a painful sting. Only new queens, produced and mated in the fall, overwinter in loose bark, hollow trees or other dry protected places. They come out of hibernation in May, usually nest in old nests of field mice, holes in the ground, old stumps, abandoned mattresses, old bales of straw or hay in barns, cornhusks in corncribs, along foundations, etc. Colonies are annual, lasting only one summer. There are usually less than 200 individuals in a colony and nests are generally found in open grasslands. The queen establishes the nest site by lining an existing cavity with dry grass or moss. She collects a mass of pollen and moistens this with nectar to produce a stored food called “bee bread.” The first brood of spring numbers 5 to 20, all workers, who enlarge the nest, gather food and feed the larvae. The queen continues to lay eggs throughout the summer and by late summer, reproductive males and females are produced. These mate during flight and fertilized females move to overwintering sites. Remaining males and workers in the colony die with frost or the first hard freeze. Nests can be detected by the presence of many males flying about the entrance. Stinging workers, sometimes called “dive bombers,” can respond quickly when their territory is invaded. Easily irritated, workers will aggressively pursue an intruder attempting to escape. Bumble bees are extremely important pollinators of certain kinds of clover such as red clover due to their long tongues. Favored flowers are sunflowers, thistles, nettles, roses, partridge peas and certain clovers.

 

Sweat and Mining Bees

These bees (females) dig 1/4 to 1/2 inch diameter, cylindrical tunnels in loose soil in shady areas where the vegetation is sparse. Halictid bees, called “sweat bees,” measure 3/16 to 5/6-inch long and are colored black with yellow, red or metallic markings. They frequently alight on sweaty hands and inflict a sting which is somewhat painful lasting for a half hour or more. These bees are common at flowers, gathering pollen and nectar to feed their young. Nests occur in cavities in weeds or shrubs, or in the ground. One species of sweat bee is small, shining black, 1/8-inch long with short white hair underneath, brown tipped legs and nests in ironweed. Andrenid bees, as Halictid bees, are solitary, short-tongued and nest in burrows in the ground, sometimes in large numbers, nesting close together where vegetation is sparse. They are gregarious and nest in groups. There is one female per nest.

 

Digger Bees

Also known as flower-loving bees, these robust bees usually go unnoticed as they feed by collecting nectar and pollen from many flowers in gardens and meadows. When solitary nests are built in certain areas, they become a nuisance to homeowners.

Covered densely with yellow and black hairs, these digger bees resemble carpenter bees. Wings are clear but smokey at the tip. The forewings have a small spot on the leading edge with the hind wings having a jugal lobe at the wing base.

Sand and clay banks lacking ground cover are attractive nest sites. The nest entrance is hidden by a down-slanted chimney composed of mud. Inner-branching mud-lined tunnels extend from this chimney partitioned into brood cells each containing one egg.

Adult bees place honey and pollen in each cell to provide food for the developing larva after egg hatch. Larvae overwinter in the brood cell, pupate and adults emerge in late spring.

Planting ground cover on embankments may discourage nest building.

 

Leafcutting Bees

Adults resemble honey bees, but are usually darker in color (black, dark blue, purple or green covered with white, yellow, reddish or brown hair) and have shiny blue-black bodies. These bees have two submarginal (closed cells in the front wings) and females have many long, stout hairs underneath the abdomen, forming a pollen basket usually loaded with pollen. Unlike social honey bees, they are solitary (no colonies formed) with a female nesting in the ground, in logs, in hollow stems, twigs or wood siding. They cut out oval or circular (dime size) areas, especially from leaf margins of rose, redbud, ash and other ornamental shrubs and trees. These cut out plant leaf discs are used to fashion thimble-like cells within the nest. An egg is laid in each cell after it is provisioned with pollen and nectar. Each cell is sealed over with pieces of leaves cut round and slightly larger than the cell diameter, permitting a tight fit to result. These bees do not defend their nest territory aggressively and are not a stinging hazard to humans. Nevertheless, they may frighten people.

 

Digger or Threadwaisted Wasps

Both the blue digger and golden digger wasp are beneficial, appearing in the morning and flying over the lawn all day, then leaving in early evening. Digger wasps are solitary wasps with each female working alone to produce her offspring instead of having the help of several workers as in social chambers or cells. These chambers are provisioned with food for the offspring. After the eggs are laid in or on the “provision,” the offspring are on their own to live and grow to adults that emerge the following summer.

The blue digger about 3/4-inch long is shiny metallic blue on both the wings and body. This slender wasp provisions its nests with grasshoppers and crickets. Also, the inch-long golden digger wasp with shiny gold markings on the face and abdomen uses grasshoppers and crickets as stored food for their offspring. Often, wasps can be seen flying about a foot or less above the ground. Others may be perched on shrubs and trees.

Due to their large size, they are assumed to be extremely dangerous. Actually, they are not aggressive but curious and investigate persons and pets near their burrows. Stings are quite rare. One can walk safely through them as they hover over the lawn.

 

Control

If ground-nesting bees and wasps can be ignored and their tunnels tolerated, do so since they are valuable in agricultural production and helpful by controlling pests in nature. If nests are in locations undesirable and stinging is a great possibility, control is justified. During the day, carefully watch where the nest entrances are located. After dark, tunnels and the surrounding area can be treated with dusts of carbaryl (Sevin), bendiocarb (Ficam D) or diazinon when the nest is in the ground. Use pyrethrins, permethrin, resmethrin or propoxur (Baygon) when the nest is in the side of a building. Other lawn and garden insecticide sprays can also be used, but dusts have the advantage of not soaking into the soil. Those who are allergic to bee stings, should contact a licensed, professional pest control operator to perform the control job. Always read the label and follow directions and safety precautions

 

Yellowjacket

HYG-2075-97
William F. Lyon

Common Name Scientific Name
German Yellowjacket Paravespula germanica (Linnaeus)
Eastern Yellowjacket Paravespula maculifrons (Buysson)
Common Yellowjacket Paravespula vulgaris (Linnaeus)

 

Yellowjacket Wasps

Yellowjacket wasps often become a nuisance in Ohio, especially from August through October, as they build up in large populations and scavenge for human food (carbonated beverages, cider, juices, ripe fruits and vegetables, candy, ice cream, fish, ham, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.) at picnics, cookouts, outside restaurants, bakeries, campsites, fairs, sports events and other outdoor get-togethers. Many are attracted in large numbers to garbage cans and other trash receptacles. Others fly in and out of nests built around homes, buildings and areas where people live, work and play, causing fear and alarm. Although yellowjackets are considered quite beneficial to agriculture since they feed abundantly on harmful flies and caterpillars, it is their boldness (sometimes aggressiveness) and painful stinging ability that cause most concern. Nevertheless, unless the threat of stings and nest location present a hazard, it is often best to wait for Mother Nature, with freezing temperatures in late November and December, to kill off these annual colonies. Stinging workers do not survive the winter and the same nest is not reused.

 

Identification

A typical yellowjacket worker is about 1/2-inch long, short and blocky, with alternating black and yellow bands on the abdomen while the queen is larger, about 3/4-inch long. (The different black and yellow patterns on the abdomen help separate various species.) Workers are sometimes confused with honey bees, especially when flying in and out of their nests. Yellowjackets, in contrast to honey bees, are not covered with tan-brown dense hair on their bodies and lack the flattened hairy hind legs used to carry pollen. Yellowjackets have a lance-like stinger without barbs and can sting repeatedly whereas honey bees have a barbed stinger and sting only once. Some have yellow on the face. Mouthparts are well-developed for capturing and chewing insects with a tongue for sucking nectar, fruit and other juices. Nests are built in trees, shrubs or in protected places such as inside human-made structures (attics, hollow walls or flooring, in sheds, under porches and eaves of houses), or in soil cavities, mouse burrows, etc. Nests are made from wood fiber chewed into a paper-like pulp.

 

Life Cycle and Habits

Yellowjackets are social wasps living in colonies containing workers, queens and males. Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Fertilized queens occur in protected places as hollow logs, in stumps, under bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities and human-made structures. Queens emerge during the warm days of late April or early May, select a nest site and build a small paper nest in which eggs are laid. After eggs hatch from the 30 to 50 brood cells, the queen feeds the young larvae for about 18 to 20 days. Larvae pupate, emerging later as small, infertile females called workers. By mid-June, the first adult workers emerge and assume the tasks of nest expansion, foraging for food, care of the queen and larvae, and colony defense. From this time until her death in the autumn, the queen remains inside the nest laying eggs. The colony then expands rapidly reaching a maximum size of 4,000 to 5,000 workers and a nest of 10,000 to 15,000 cells in August and late September. At peak size, reproductive cells are built with new males and queens produced. Adult reproductives remain in the nest fed by the workers. New queens build up fat reserves to overwinter. Adult reproductives leave the parent colony to mate. After mating, males quickly die while fertilized queens seek protected places to overwinter. Parent colony workers dwindle, usually leaving the nest and die, as does the foundress queen. Abandoned nests rapidly decompose and disintegrate during the winter. Nests inside structures will persist as long as they are dry. Nests are not used again. In the spring, the cycle is repeated. (Weather in the spring is the most important factor in colony establishment.) Although adults feed primarily on items rich in sugars and carbohydrates (fruits, flower nectar and tree sap), the larvae feed on proteins (insects, meats, fish, etc.). Adult workers chew and condition the meat fed to the larvae. Larvae in return secrete a sugar material relished by the adults. (This exchange of material is known as trophallaxis.) In late autumn, foraging workers (nuisance scavengers) change their food preference from meats to ripe, decaying fruits since larvae in the nest fail to meet requirements as a source of sugar.

In 1975, the German yellowjacket first appeared in Ohio and has now become the dominant species over the Eastern yellowjacket. It is bold, aggressive and, if provoked, can sting repeatedly and painfully. The German yellowjacket builds a grey, brittle, papery soccer or football shaped nest in structures with the peak worker population between 1,000 to 3,000 individuals between May to November. The Eastern yellowjacket builds a tan, fragile papery soccer or football shaped nest underground with the peak worker population between 1,000 to 3,000 individuals between May to November similar to the Common yellowjacket. Nests are built entirely of wood fiber (usually weathered or dead) and are completely enclosed (football or soccer shaped) except for a small opening (entrance) at the bottom. The nest may be located below the soil or aerial with the paper envelope covering containing multiple, horizontal tiers of combs (10 or more) within. Larvae hang down in combs.

 

Sting Prevention

It is always best to avoid unnecessary stings. Should a yellowjacket wasp fly near you or land on your body, never swing or strike at it or run rapidly away since quick movements often provoke attack and painful stings. When a wasp is near you, slowly raise your hands to protect your face remaining calm and stationary for a while and then move very slowly (avoid stepping on the ground nest), backing out through bushes or moving indoors to escape. Wasps and bees can fly about six to seven miles per hour so humans can outrun them. However, by the time one starts running, there could quickly be a dozen or so painful stings caused by the rapid movement. There is an old saying that “one who stands still and shoots an aerial nest with a shotgun need not fear, instead it is the person that rapidly runs away who gets all the stings.” Never strike, swing or crush a wasp or bee against your body since it could incite nearby yellowjackets into a frenzied attack. Wasp venom contains a chemical “alarm pheromone,” released into the air, signaling guard wasps to come and sting whomever and whatever gets in their way. Unfortunately, many serious accidents have resulted when one runs away from attacking wasps and into the path of automobiles. When a bee or wasp gets into a moving car, remain calm. They almost never sting when in enclosed spaces as a car or house. Instead, they fly against windows. Slowly and safely pull over off the road, open the windows and allow the escape.

Be careful not to cut weeds or run the lawnmower over a ground nest nor disturb a nest in a tree or eaves of the home. Any noise and disturbance will sometimes infuriate and provoke painful stinging. Restrain children from throwing rocks or spraying water on nests.

When eating outdoors, keep food covered until eaten, especially ripe fruit and soft drinks. Any scent of food caused by outdoor cooking, eating, feeding pets or garbage cans will attract many bees and wasps (especially yellowjackets in late summer and early autumn). Keep refuse in tightly sealed containers with tight-fitting trash can lids. Cleaning of dumpsters and garbage containers daily may be required at certain times of the year. (Good sanitation is most important.)

Pick fruits as soon as they ripen. Pick up and dispose of any fallen fruit rotting on the ground. (Overripe pears and apples on the ground attract many yellowjackets.)

Individuals should avoid attracting insects by not wearing perfume, hair spray, hair tonic, suntan lotion, aftershave lotions, heavy-scented soaps, shampoos and other cosmetics when visiting areas where bees and wasps are prevalent. Avoid shiny buckles, earrings and jewelry, bright, colored, flowery prints (especially bright yellow, light blue, orange, fluorescent red), black, wool, and loose-fitting clothing that may trap stinging insects. Beekeepers wear light-colored (white or light tan) cotton clothing, bee gloves, bee veil, long sleeves and coveralls to reduce unnecessary multiple stings. Wear a hat and closed shoes (not sandals or barefoot). There are no jackets (clothing) impregnated with chemicals repellent to yellowjackets. Hypersensitive persons should never be alone when hiking, boating, swimming, golfing, fishing or participating in any outdoor activity since help may be needed to start prompt emergency treatment measures if stung. It is wise to carry or have an identification bracelet or necklace, such as “Medic Alert,” to alert others when sudden shock-like (anaphylactic) symptoms or unconsciousness (fainting) occurs after one or more stings. Medic Alert tags can be purchased from Medic Alert Foundation, Box 1009, Turlock, California 95380 (Telephone 209-668-3333).

 

Treatment of Stings

After being stung, immediately apply a poultice of a meat tenderizer to the wound. If the sting is not deep, this will break down the components of the sting fluid, reducing pain. Also, a commercial prescription preparation such as ANA Emergency Insect Sting Kit and Insect Sting Kit can be used. Antihistamine ointments and tablets, taken orally, appear effective in reducing reactions to stings. However, people who are highly sensitive to stings should consider a desensitization program in an allergy clinic. Consult a physician about medical kits such as Epipen, which contains chlortrimeton (antihistamine) tablets and aqueous epinephrine (adrenalin) ready for injection, a tourniquet and sterile alcohol swabs for cleaning the injection site.

 

Control Measures

A bounty was paid in New Zealand for each German yellowjacket queen collected in the springtime to the Department of Agriculture. The mass destruction of overwintering queens had virtually no effect on yellowjacket populations the following summer. (Even if 99.9 percent of the potential queens were eliminated, the same number of annual colonies would remain.)

 

Traps (Homemade)

Hang fish or liver suspended on a string one to two inches over a tub of water to which detergent has been added (wetting agent eliminates surface tension). Yellowjackets will try to fly away with pieces of fish or liver that are too heavy for them and will drown after falling into the water. It is not unusual to fill a dishpan with drowned yellowjackets in one afternoon during the peak season. Trapping large numbers often fails to reduce population to acceptable levels, but may be useful in small areas. Certain yellowjackets have been shown to fly from 300 to 1,000 yards from their nest in search of food.

 

Traps (Commercial)

There are several commercial non-toxic bait traps for yellowjacket wasp control. It is important to know that no trap is good at rapid knockdown of yellowjacket populations. For effective use at outdoor events, traps should be placed out two or more days prior to the event.

Approximate trap costs are:

  • Green Leaf Wasp EATER Trap – $7.99 to $9.99

  • Oak Stump Farm “Yellowjacket” Wasp Trap – $7.99 to $8.99

  • Consep Wasp Trap – $6.95 to $7.99

  • Yellow Jacket Inn – $4.99

  • Victor Flying Insect Trap – $2.95

Every trap except the Yellow Jacket Inn relies on exhausted yellowjackets dropping into the liquid bait and drowning before they can escape back out the entrance holes. The addition of a drop or two of liquid dish soap to the bait after it has been poured into the trap is critical. (Soap lowers the surface tension of the liquid bait and enhances drowning.) Some apply a thin film of Vaseline to the inside neck of traps to prevent escape.

In reference to baits, apple juice frozen concentrate diluted at a 50:50 ratio with water is excellent, improving as it ferments. Traps run out of bait in two to three days. (Traps need to be serviced two to three times each week.) Traps should be strategically placed in high-density wasp locations (10 traps in two specific 15 square foot locations) to intercept pre-existing wasp foraging patterns. For ease of cleaning, traps with captured wasps can be immersed in soapy water and usually disposed of on-site.

A commercial microencapsulated diazinon product mixed with tuna or mackerel has been successfully used as a bait against some western yellowjacket species, but no success has yet been reported on species found in Ohio. Unfortunately, no other insecticide is registered for use as a bait formulation.

 

Garbage Management

It is primarily German yellowjacket workers found scavenging garbage cans and dumpsters, during the peak months, to feed their larvae. Remove garbage daily and make sure lids are tight-fitting. Spraying the inside of garbage containers and dumpsters with propoxur (Baygon), resmethrin, or pyrethrins one to two times each week will provide relief. (Spray near the rim, especially immediately after the receptacles are emptied.) Residual sprays containing 0.5 percent sugar can be helpful when sprayed on walls or ground surfaces. Sugar attracts foraging yellowjackets and the residual insecticide eliminates them. However, sugar will mold, so be careful in applying such solutions to building surfaces which may discolor when the humidity is high.

 

Insecticides

There are literally hundreds of products in various formulations labeled for yellowjacket and wasp control. Control of social wasps (yellowjackets), although usually not difficult, has its element of risk in being stung. It is best to conduct control operations on nests after dark, about 9:30 PM in summer, to avoid being stung, since most of the wasps will have returned to their nest (at dusk or sunset is too soon). If applications must be made during daylight hours, the use of protective equipment, such as gloves, hat, bee veil, coveralls, etc., will prevent stings from any airborne wasps.

 

Nests Below Ground (Outdoors)

Treat after dark with insecticidal dusts. If using a flashlight, cover the lens with red cellophane paper since light may stimulate yellowjacket wasps to come out of their nests. Dusts should be puffed into the nest immediately followed by a shovelful of moist soil over the entrance hole to prevent escape. Do not cover the nest entrance during daylight treatment as returning workers will be all over the immediate area looking for the entrance. Some prefer not to cover the entrance hole either during the day or evening. Some effective dusts include pyrethrins (Drione), carbaryl (Sevin), or bendiocarb (Ficam). One can also apply propoxur (Baygon) 1.5 percent EC at the rate of eight ounces per gallon of water. Pour into the entrance hole after dark.

 

Nests Above Ground (Outdoors)

For control of wasps that build aerial nests near windows, eaves, in trees, etc., insecticides are formulated in pressurized containers that emit a long, narrow stream of spray 15 to 20 feet. Wasp freeze or wasp stopper compounds, containing highly volatile solvents mixed with resmethrin, pyrethrins or some of the newer pyrethroids, produce almost instant knockdown of wasps hit. By approaching the nest, spraying in a sweeping motion, the area can be cleared of yellowjackets guarding the nest, followed by directing the spray stream into the entrance hole at the nest bottom to kill those inside. During the day, this technique does not alarm other wasps returning from the field. No other insecticide needs to be introduced into the nest since all adults present are killed and the immature stages (eggs and larvae) die from lack of care. Usually after one to two days, the nest can be removed carefully.

 

Nests in Wall Voids

The German yellowjacket frequently builds nests in the walls of structures. Once locating the entrance, quickly insert the plastic wand of an aerosol generator of resmethrin and release 10 to 30 seconds of material into the void. If possible, inject some Sevin dust into the entrance. (A commercial plastic hand duster or empty liquid detergent bottle filled half full can be used.) Plug the hole with steel wool and dust the steel wool and surrounding area with Sevin. If done during the daytime, returning workers will chew at the treated steel wool, but within 12 hours all will have been killed. A veil and protective clothing must be worn if done during daylight hours. Never plug an entrance hole without first injecting with some insecticide or wasps may chew through drywall or the ceiling into the home.

Nests located on the second level or higher of a dwelling can sometimes be treated from the inside. Locate the actual nest position by listening with your ear to the wall or using a stethoscope. One can make a small hole (1/8-inch through the drywall with an ice pick or drill) and inject the resmethrin directly into the nest. Some may prefer aerosol formulations of Baygon or dusts of Ficam or Drione.

Sometimes queens may be found overwintering in homes. Fly swatters, pressurized contact sprays or aerosols containing pyrethrins can be used. Usually, spraying indoors is of little or no benefit. Collect individuals with a vacuum device.

 

Indirect Control of Wasps

Exclude from factories and warehouses by screening window and door openings with mesh of a size not greater than 1/8-inch. Air doors may be helpful on factory doors that are heavily trafficked.

There are many insecticides labeled for control including acephate (Orthene), amorphous silica gel (Drione), bendiocarb (Ficam), bendiocarb + pyrethrins (Ficam Plus), bifenthrin (Biflex), carbaryl (Sevin), chlorpyrifos (Dursban, Empire, Tenure), cyfluthrin (Tempo), cypermethrin (Cynoff, Cyper-Active, Demon, Vikor), deltamethrin (Suspend), diazinon, permethrin (Astro, Dragnet, Flee, Permanone, Prelude Torpedo), propoxur (Baygon), pyrethrins (Kicker, Microcare, Pyrenone, Pyrethrum, Synerol), resmethrin (Vectrin) and tralomethrin (Saga). Certain formulations of bendiocarb, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin and tralomethrin are “Restricted Use Pesticides” labeled for licensed pesticide applicators only.

Persons who are especially sensitive to stings should get several competitive cost control estimates from reputable, licensed, professional pest control operators who have the experience, equipment and most effective insecticides to get the best job done.

 

Mud Daubers

HYG-2078-95
William F. Lyon

Common Name Scientific Name
Organpipe Mud Dauber Trypoxylon politum Say
Trypoxylon clavatum Say
Black and Yellow Mud Dauber Sceliphron caementarium (Drury)
Blue Mud Dauber Chalybion californicum (Saussure)

Mud daubers may become a nuisance when they construct nests of mud, especially on porches, decks, sheds, eaves, attics, ceilings, walls and under roof overhangs around homes and other structures where people live, work and play. They are considered nuisance pests since nests are not defended and stings are rare. In spite of their formidable appearance, these solitary wasps are not aggressive and controls are rarely needed.

 

Identification

Adults of the organpipe mud dauber are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, shiny, black, elongate and slender. The inner margins of the eyes are deeply emarginate (notched), with hind leg segments (tibiae) white. Black and yellow mud daubers are about 1 to 1-1/4 inches long; black or brown with yellow markings (partially yellow legs) and thread-waisted. Blue mud daubers are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, metallic blue to blackish (with blue wings) and thread-waisted.

The organpipe mud dauber builds finger-like nests of mud attached to flat surfaces under roof overhangs, under eaves, etc. The nest is a series of parallel mud tubes of varying length, like a pipe organ with several or many tubes in a row. The black and yellow mud dauber is often seen around wet areas digging up balls of mud for its nest. The nest is placed on the undersides of boards, logs, rocks, etc. Nests may be a single cell or several cells placed side by side. The blue mud dauber does not make its own nest, but takes over the nest of the black and yellow mud dauber.

 

Life Cycle and Habits

Mud daubers are often seen at the edge of mud puddles collecting mud to construct their tublar nests. Organpipe mud dauber nests are partitioned off with mud and each cell is provisioned with several paralyzed spiders and implanted with an egg. After eggs hatch, larvae feed on captured spiders with larvae maturing in about three weeks. Larvae spin a cocoon and overwinter. Males may guard the nest while the female forages. Mud cells may be constructed in deserted nests of the black and yellow mud dauber.

Female black and yellow mud daubers paralyze spiders, pack them into the cell with their head until full, lay one egg and seal the cell. Larvae are pale yellowish about 3/4 inch long when fully grown. Pupation occurs within a cocoon inside the cell. There are two broods with hibernation in the cocoon. Female blue mud daubers take over a mud nest, open a cell by moistening the clay with water and emptying it of spiders and the other wasp egg. They then deposit their own paralyzed spiders, lay their own egg and seal over the cell. Hosts are mostly black widow spiders.

Solitary wasps (mud daubers) are very different than the social wasps (hornets, yellowjackets and paper wasps). There is no worker caste and the queens must care for their own young. Mud dauber wasp queens use their sting to paralyze their prey (spiders) rather than to defend their nests. These wasps are non-aggressive and rarely sting unless touched or caught in clothing.

 

Control Measures

When painting buildings it is often necessary to remove the finger-like mud tubes from places which need to be painted. Nests can be removed with a putty knife and adults killed with a fly swatter, if necessary. Usually it is not necessary to control mud daubers unless their presence is a nuisance. They are beneficial to humans by sometimes killing dangerous spiders such as the black widow.

 

Insecticides

Chemical control should be considered as a last resort since these wasps are not aggressive and rarely sting unless handled. Adults can be killed with an aerosol spray containing synergized pyrethrins or resmethrin. After use of insecticides, scrape away the nest with a putty knife or other tool, and dispose of it to prevent emergence of developing young and possible infestations of dermestid beetles in the old nest. When using insecticides, follow label directions and safety precautions.

 

Cicada Killer Wasp

HYG-2078A-97
William F. Lyon

Common Name Scientific Name
Cicada Killer Wasp, Giant Cicada Killer or Sand Hornet Sphecius speciosus (Drury)

Although female Cicada Killer Wasps rarely sting unless disturbed, homeowners may become alarmed or frightened because of their very large size (nearly two inches) and foraging habits in unwanted areas. These solitary wasps may become a nuisance when they dig holes in lawns, sand base volleyball courts, flower beds, gardens, and golf course sand traps, kicking out a six to eight inch diameter horseshoe-shaped pile of dirt (mound) around the nest entrance. Males have especially aggressive territorial behavior, but have no sting. Females are difficult to provoke, can sting, but rarely do. The female wasps are not aggressive and control is rarely needed except in unwanted places. Adults appear in mid to late summer (July and August) causing special concern to individuals with young children.

 

Identification

The adult cicada killer is a very large (1-1/8 to 1-5/8 inches long), robust wasp with a black body marked with yellow across the thorax (middle part) and on the first three abdominal (rear part) segments. The head and thorax are rusty red and the wings russet yellow (brownish). Legs are yellowish. Coloration may resemble yellowjacket wasps.

 

Life Cycle and Habits

Solitary wasps (such as a cicada killer) are very different than the social wasps (hornets, yellowjackets and paper wasps). Cicada killer females use their sting to paralyze their prey (cicadas) rather than to defend their nests. The female wasps are non-aggressive and rarely sting unless touched, caught in clothing, disturbed by lawn equipment, etc. Though males aggressively defend nesting sites, they have no sting. Adults feed on flower nectar and sap exudates.

These wasps are commonly seen in late summer skimming around the lawn, shrubs and trees searching for cicadas. Cicadas are captured, paralyzed by a sting and used for food to rear their young. After stinging a large cicada, the female wasp drags it up a tree, straddles it and takes off toward the burrow, partly gliding. When trees are not available, the cicada (prey) is dragged to the burrow on the ground. Cicadas are very large insects, sometimes called “locusts.” They sing loudly (noisily) in trees during late summer. Overwintering occurs as a mature larva within a leathery, brown cocoon in an earthen cell. Pupation occurs in the spring lasting 25 to 30 days. Adult wasps emerge about the first week in July in Ohio. Emergence continues throughout the summer months. Adults live about 60 to 75 days (mid-July to mid-September) while they dig new nesting holes (burrows) in full sun where vegetation is sparse in light, well-drained soils. Eggs are deposited in late July through August. Eggs hatch in one to two days and larvae complete their development in 4 to 14 days. There is only one generation per year.

 

Burrows & Nests

There may be many individuals flying over a lawn, but each female digs her own burrow six to ten inches deep and one-half inch wide. (They do not nest together.) The soil is dislodged by her mouth and loose particles are kicked back as a dog would dig. The excess soil thrown out of the burrow forms a U-shaped mound at the entrance, causing unsightly mounds of earth on the turf. This ground-burrowing wasp may be found in sandy soils to loose clay in bare or grass covered banks, berms, hills as well as raised sidewalks, driveways and patio slabs. Some may nest in planters, window boxes, flower beds, under shrubs, ground cover, etc. Nests usually are made in the full sun where vegetation is sparse, especially in well-drained soils. Occasionally they establish in golf course sand traps. (A very gravelly or bare area is preferred.)

Cicada Killer Wasps may tunnel as much as six inches deep and another six inches horizontally. At the end of the burrow are usually three to four cells where one to two cicadas are placed in each cell with one egg. If all the cells are filled, secondary tunnels are constructed and provisioned. A single burrow may eventually have 10 to 20 cells.

 

Control Measures

Occasionally, homeowners, especially in southern and southwestern Ohio become flustered in attempting to eliminate nuisance, massive populations from lawns. Cicada Killer Wasps normally arrive the last week in July and are gone by the second week of August. Wasps may become unbearable causing homeowners not to use their backyard during the day due to these wasps flying (skimming) around the lawn, shrubs and trees searching for cicadas.

One woman mentioned that she and her husband had killed over 50 wasps with tennis rackets, used five pounds of carbaryl (Sevin) dust in the nest entrances, and employed a pest control operator several times with little noticeable decrease in outdoor populations. They mow their grass in the evening (after 8:00 PM), and keep their children indoors much of the time until the Cicada Killer Wasp season is over.

Usually it is not necessary to control cicada killer wasps unless their presence is a nuisance. Sometimes these wasps can be troublesome in high traffic home and commercial areas such as berms around swimming pools, near planters at door entrances, flower beds, golf course greens and tees, and other unwanted areas. Sometimes they may fly erratically near people, causing fear. Males may actually defend their territory by dive bombing people’s heads and shoulders!

 

Insecticides

Many insecticides are labeled for wasp control. If control is necessary, locate the nests during the daylight hours. Treat after dark or before dawn when female wasps are in their nests and it is cool, ideally less than 60 deg F. During darkness, use a flashlight covered with red cellophane for lighting. Wear protective clothing. Males roost on plants near burrow sites, and are best controlled by capturing in an insect net during the day.

One can apply bendiocarb (Ficam), carbaryl (Sevin), or diazinon dust onto each nest entrance if the infestation is not too widespread. Do not disturb the burrow as the female must walk through the dust in order to get a challenging dose of the insecticide. If the entire lawn is involved (10 to 20 or more burrows), a spray with the same insecticides may be more practical. Repeat treatments may be needed for two to three weeks if new wasps move into the area. At close range, adults can be killed with a wasp aerosol of synergized pyrethrins or resmethrin as they light on foliage or enter the nest burrow. The professional, licensed pest control operator should be used especially if one is sensitive to possible stings. Other materials labeled for wasp control include acephate (Orthene), allethrin, amorphous silica gel (Drione), chlorpyrifos (Dursban), cyfluthrin (Tempo), cypermethrin (Demon, Cynoff), fenvalerate, permethrin, propoxur and resmethrin. Before using any insecticide, always read the label directions to confirm current listing of pests, and follow safety precautions.

 

Bee and Wasp Stings

HYG-2076-96
William F. Lyon

It is estimated that between one and two million people in the United States are severely allergic to stinging insect venom. Each year 90 to 100 deaths from sting reactions are reported, but many more deaths may be occurring, mistakenly diagnosed as heart attacks, sunstrokes or attributed to other causes. More people die each year from the effects of insect venom than from spider or snake bites.

Extreme human sensitivity to stings resulting in serious or fatal reactions is confirmed almost entirely to cases involving bees, wasps, hornets, bumble bees and ants (Order Hymenoptera).

Unlike most other allergies, insect allergy can cause a life-threatening disruption to breathing and circulatory systems called anaphylactic shock. For one person in 100, the sting of an insect can be fatal.

 

Allergic Reaction Symptoms

Most people stung will experience a “local” reaction with redness, pain, swelling and some itching only at the sting site. If the reaction progresses quickly to sites other than the sting site or is followed by difficult breathing or choking at the throat, the person is experiencing a “systemic” allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) requiring emergency medical treatment.

Remember that if you are stung on the hand and your face begins to swell or hives break out all over your body, this is a serious condition requiring emergency room attention.

Normal Reaction:–Lasts a few hours. Sting site is painful, reddened, may swell and itch, but will quickly dissipate.

Large Local Reaction:–Lasts for days. Sting site is more painful, swelling and itching may be present both at the sting site and in surrounding areas.

Severe Allergic Reaction:–Can commence rapidly (in a few minutes) after the sting occurs. The whole body is involved. Person may feel dizzy (lightheaded), nauseated and weak. There may be stomach cramps and diarrhea. There can be itching around the eyes, a warm feeling or coughing, hives breaking out, followed with vomiting and swelling. There can be wheezing, difficult breathing (shortness of breath) or swallowing, hoarse speech, drop in blood pressure, shock, unconsciousness and darkened skin following. Reactions may occur in a few minutes with most deaths within 30 minutes, but some within 15 minutes and some in five minutes or less.

 

Systemic Sensitivity

Doctors believe that once systemic sensitivity occurs, it almost always increases in severity with each following sting (varies in individual persons). The more quickly symptoms appear after the sting, the more severe the reaction. (Some beekeepers can no longer keep honey bees after several years due to severe allergic reactions developing). The problem occurs when some individuals produce excessive quantities of antibodies in their immune system. The excess antibody production usually follows the initial sting to which there is no reaction. However, when the person is stung again, the insect venom entering the body combines with the antibody, produced by the first sting, which triggers a series of internal reactions, resulting in severe allergic symptoms.

 

Stings

Whenever stung, try to capture or know the identity of the insect to help doctors diagnose the trouble. When a bee or wasp stings, it injects a venomous fluid under the skin. Honey bees have a barbed stinger. Only the honey bee leaves her stinger (with its venom sac attached) in the skin of its victim. Since it takes two to three minutes for the venom sac to inject all its venom, instant removal of the stinger and sac usually reduces harmful effects. Scrape away with a sideways movement (one quick scrape) with a fingernail. Never try to use the thumb and forefinger or tweezers to pinch out the stinger since this maneuver forces (injects) more venom from the sac down into the wound.

Wasps, yellowjackets and hornets have a lance-like stinger without barbs and can sting repeatedly. They should be brushed off the victim’s skin promptly with deliberate movements, then quietly and immediately leave the area.

 

Sting Prevention

Persons, especially allergic to stings, should practice certain simple precautions to avoid being stung.

 

Outdoors

Spray the patio, picnic and garbage areas with permethrin (Astro, Dragnet, Flee, Permanone, Prelude, Torpedo) or pyrethrins (Kicker, Microcare, Pyrenone, Pyrethrum, Synerol). Some formulations are restricted use. A licensed pesticide applicator or pest control operator can apply restricted use pesticides such as bendiocarb + pyrethrins (Ficam Plus), bifenthrin (Biflex), cyfluthrin (Tempo), cypermethrin (Cynoff, Cyper-Active, Demon, Vikor), deltamethrin (Suspend) and tralomethrin (Saga). Other labelled pesticides include acephate (Orthene), amorphous silica gel (Drione), bendiocarb (Ficam), carbaryl (Sevin), chlorpyrifos (Dursban, Empire, Tenure), diazinon, propoxur (Baygon) and resmethrin (Vectrin).

If you destroy the nests (aerial and ground) yourself, use a commercially available stinging insect control aerosol containing Baygon, pyrethrin, permethrin or resmethrin which can shoot a high-volume spray stream 15 to 20 feet, giving excellent quick knockdown and kill of wasps and bees hit. After dark or in the evening, most have returned from foraging to the nest. Thoroughly saturate the nest with spray, contacting as many insects as possible. Do not stand directly under an overhead nest, since some insects receiving some of the spray may fall but retain their ability to sting for some time. Repeat treatment if reinfestation occurs.

Again, it is always best, if allergic, to hire a professional exterminator to remove a nest. Never try to burn or flood a nest with water since this practice will only make these stinging insects angry and aggressive.

When eating outdoors, keep food covered until eaten, especially ripe fruit and soft drinks. Any scent of food, such as outdoor cooking, eating, feeding pets or garbage cans, will attract many bees and wasps (especially yellowjackets).

Keep refuse in tightly sealed containers. Dispose of refuse frequently (two times per week or more) during late summer and early autumn when most activity occurs.

Be careful not to mow over a nest in the ground nor disturb a nest in a tree or eaves of the home. Any disturbance often will infuriate and provoke stinging.

Should a bee or wasp fly near you, slowly raise your arms to protect your face and stand still or move slowly away through bushes or indoors to escape. Never move rapidly, which often provokes attack. Never strike or swing at a wasp or bee against your body since it may be trapped causing it to sting. If crushed, it could incite nearby yellowjackets into a frenzied attack. The wasp venom contains a chemical “alarm pheromone,” released into the air, signaling guard wasps to come and sting whomever and whatever gets in their way.

If a bee or wasp gets into a moving car, remain calm. The insect wants out of the vehicle as much as you want it out. They usually fly against windows in the car and almost never sting the occupants. Slowly and safely pull over off the road, open the window and allow the bee or wasp to escape. Unfortunately, many serious accidents have resulted when the driver strikes or swings at the insect during operation of the vehicle. A small insecticide aerosol can for control of stinging insects, kept in the car away from children and pets, can be used in an emergency.

Pick fruits as soon as they ripen. Pick up and dispose of any fallen fruit rotting on the ground. Keep lawns free of clover and dandelions, which attract honey bees. Avoid close contact with flowering trees, shrubs and flowers when bees and wasps are collecting nectar. Vines, which may conceal nests, should be removed from the house, if practical.

 

Individuals

Since perfume, hair spray, hair tonic, suntan lotion, aftershave lotions, heavy-scented shampoos, soaps and many other cosmetics attract insects, they should be avoided. Avoid shiny buckles and jewelry. Wear a hat and closed shoes (not sandals). Don’t wear bright, colored, loose-fitting clothing, which may attract and trap insects. Flowery prints and black especially attract insects. To avoid stings, the beekeeper wears light-colored (white) clothing, preferably cotton (never wool).

Beginning beekeepers use bee gloves, a head veil, long sleeves and coveralls with the pant legs tucked into boots or tied at the ankles to prevent unnecessary multiple stings. A bee smoker is always used before opening up an established hive. To avoid stings, stay away from any bee hives for an hour or more (depending on weather) after the beekeeper has gone. Bees are more angry on cloudy, dark rainy days in early spring of the year.

Hypersensitive persons should never be alone when hiking, boating, swimming, golfing, fishing or involved outdoors since help is likely needed in starting prompt emergency treatment measures if stung. It is wise for the person to carry a card or to have an identification bracelet or necklace, such as “Medic Alert,” identifying the person as hypersensitive to an insect sting. It will alert others to the condition in an emergency when sudden shock-like (anaphylactic) symptoms or unconsciousness (fainting) occurs after one or more stings. Medic Alert tags can be purchased at Medic Alert Foundation, 2323 Colorado Avenue, Turlock, California 95380, (Telephone: 1-800-922-3320).

 

Normal Reaction Sting Treatment

For stings causing itch, irritation, redness and swelling at the sting site, the following may be useful:

  • Ice
  • Baking Soda
  • Meat Tenderizer–for people not allergic to bee stings. Use any brand with Papain. Make a paste with a few drops of water to a teaspoon of meat tenderizer and quickly apply to the sting to reduce pain and inflammation (breaks down components of sting fluid).
  • Ammonia Solution–Apply a 1 to 2.5 percent solution no more than three to four times daily.
  • Oral Antihistamines–Tablets may be chewed for faster relief, but liquids are more readily absorbed after oral ingestion (Chlortrimeton, Dimetane, Teldrin).
  • Epinephrine Inhaler (Bronkaid mist, Primatene, Medihaler-Epi)
  • Topical Steroids (Cortaid, Dermolate, Lanacort, etc.)
  • Local Anesthetics (Benzocaine, Americaine, Dermoplast, Bactine, Foille, Lanacaine, Solarcaine)
  • Oral Steroids–Prescription only.

These medicines can be located in a tackle box, in camping gear, in the car and in the home. Store at room temperature away from room lighting or sunlight.

 

Emergency Kits for Insect Stings

Highly-sensitive persons should have two emergency kits prescribed for them by their physician within easy access at all times. One kit should be carried at all times and the other kept in the family car. It is best to store kits in a cool, dry place (refrigeration) with easy access. The kit contains one sterile syringe of Epinephrine (adrenalin) EPIPEN, ready for injection, four chewable, yellow tablets of Chlortrimeton (antihistamine), two sterile alcohol swabs for cleaning the injection site and one tourniquet. Inject the syringe into the thigh (subcutaneously) under the skin as soon as the first sting symptoms show. A tourniquet placed above the sting site, when on an arm or leg just tight enough to obstruct blood return but not so tight as to stop circulation, will help until medical treatment is obtained. Loosen the tourniquet every 10 minutes.

Other kits include ANA Emergency Insect Sting Kit and Insect Sting Kit available by prescription only at the drugstore or pharmacy.

 

Hypersensitivity Testing and Desensitization Program

Diagnostic skin testing with insect venom(s) is recommended for those who have experienced immediate systemic reaction to an insect sting. About half of adult patients will react similarly or worse to another sting unless desensitized with a series of appropriate venom injections. The percentage of serious reactions to another sting is less with children, but may still occur. Immunotherapy is given about every four weeks, indefinitely, unless skin tests indicate the patient is no longer sensitive. Freeze-dried venom from honey bee, yellowjacket, baldfaced hornet, etc. is available. They are believed to be 98 to 99 percent effective.

The first year of insect sting shots costs about $1,000 for a single venom. Subsequent years, when shots are given less often, run about $500 each. Sometimes shots are stopped after five years, if one has had a negative skin test, never had a life-threatening reaction and received several stings without ill effect. Shots are not stopped on those who have had a life-threatening reaction and there is uncertainty about the patient being resensitized. Consult Midwest Allergy Associates, Inc., 85 East Wilson Bridge Road, Worthington, Ohio 43085 (Telephone: 614-846-5944) for more details on a Hypersensitivity Testing and Desensitization Program.

 


Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet

Entomology

1991 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43210

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.

TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868


*